The opinions of Plains-wanderers

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: The opinions of Plains-wanderers
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2008 11:53:27 +1000
I believe that Plains-wanderers, if they could understand the question
(given our human limitations in presenting such a question to a far more
sophisticated species than our own) and if we could understand and interpret
the philosophical thinking of Plains-wanderers, would greatly resent the
arrogance of our species suggesting that they should be "lumped" with any
other species or group of species and/or that they should be placed in some
arbitrary grouping devised by human beings for their own convenience given that
they, the Plains-wanderers (if, indeed, that is what they call themselves),
have been spending an inordinate amount of time trying to make themselves
quite distinct from any other species that has, to our limited knowledge,
ever existed.

Just thought I would say that in response to these extracts from previous
postings (no names - no pack-drill):

"I just bought "Shorebirds of Australia", and was surprised to see that it
covers Plains-wanderer.  I can understand their explanation that it's
related to other shorebirds, but if it doesn't look or act like one, why
include it?"

"Not really - not all "waders" wade - some are much happier inland. Banded
Lapwings and Inland Dotterels are two examples that spring to mind that
rarely get their toes wet! The grouping into "families" is done on lots of
characteristics, not just the habitat and "Shorebirds" is generally taken to
mean a specific scientific group. One could argue that a Silver Gull is a
shorebird as you find it at the seaside, but it does not fit in the relevant
scientific group so I expect it will not be in your book."

"It makes more sense including them in this book, as they belong to a
family of birds referred to as "shorebirds" rather than having them
clumped with Button-quails as they were for so many years."

"Hmmm, I think it is logically questionable to use the term "belongs" when
you are referring to bird classifications. I think that Plains Wanderers
have a lot more in common with Button Quail than with Godwits and

Handbook of Birds of the World has them as a "Shorebird". Helm's Shorebirds"
of the World does not. Pizzey does, Clements 5th does. I think IOU and
Birdlife International do as well?"

"Well, what I mean is that being "lumped" with shorebirds is somewhat
different to "belongs" in the shorebirds group. I don't think that Plains
Wanderers would view themselves as shorebirds, if it were possible to ask
their opinion."

Please note: I am in no way intending to be critical of any of the
contributors to this topic. I neither definitely agree nor definitely disagree with any of the
statements so far made.
I would dispute, though, the claim ".....and "Shorebirds" is generally taken to mean a specific scientific group". There is really nothing scientific about groupings such as "shorebirds", "waders", "water birds", "sea birds". The scientific group to which "shorebirds" have been assigned is the order Charadriiformes however not all Charadriiformes are commonly referred to as "shorebirds" and many Charadriiformes are definitely not "waders".

Plains-wanderers have been accepted in Australia as belonging in the order Charadriiformes since at least 1994 (see The taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories, Christidis and Bowles, RAOU Monograph 2, 1994).

Bob Inglis
Sandstone Point

Note: please do not forward all or any part of this e-mail to any other web-based forum or discussion-group without my permission. Use of the whole or part of this email for criticism or further discussion on Birding-Aus is acceptable to me but is not recommended by me.


To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message: unsubscribe (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU